Toronto DJ, promoter and Discwoman affiliate Ciel, otherwise known as Cindy Li, is spearheading a movement of inclusivity in her home city. Rather than promote solely via words and music, Li embodies action on a grassroots level, running the gender nonconforming night Work in Progress and setting about uniting the Toronto underground through parties at disused locations with It’s Not U it’s Me. Last year, fed up with the all-male line-ups dominating her home city, she created a shareable Google doc spotlighting women, femme and non-binary DJs in Toronto, urging promoters to book overlooked talent in the area.
Last October, she made her production debut on Shanti Celeste’s Peach Discs with Celestial Encounters. Comprised of three dreamy, nebulous tracks replete with ambient textures, Li’s sound is informed, as she’s previously revealed, by shoegaze bands such as Slowdive. While her sets can be difficult to define, her casual disregard of genre constraints is tempered by the sense of ease with which she joins the dots.
Now, as she’s gearing up to release a second EP entitled A Hundred Flowers, she took some time out to craft a mix for our series. “I didn’t really overthink it. I basically put together a collection of music I’ve been playing a lot on my recent European tour, with a few purchases acquired in my favourite record shops abroad, a forthcoming track by myself, and lots of unreleased gems from pals in Toronto, Montreal and Leeds,” she writes to us via email.
“Like my DJ sets, this mix attempts to traverse as many of my favourite sub-genres of dance music as possible without being jarring, and I hope I was successful. I recorded it on two Technics, two CDJ-2000NXS’ and one pioneer DJM-900 one afternoon during off hours.” Hazy, bright and meditative, its weightlessness is in line with Li’s productions – though there’s room for darker turns too.